Businesses have been affected by harshly due to the spread of COVID-19. Everywhere you look, it may seem that your favorite store is closing down, or someone on your Facebook has been laid off from their company. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many economic activities stopped, and the movement of people minimized. More and more people are interested in digitization, and work from home is considered one of the biggest challenges that impact the quality of work.
We cannot eliminate the impact of this pandemic and upcoming recession anytime soon, but we can take the right steps to minimize the current pandemic’s effects on our business. Adapt to an omnichannel strategy to whirl the crisis into opportunity. We have made a list of seven business tips that you need to consider to help your business survive in the COVID-19 epidemic. It will help you make relevant decisions within your company.
Never waste a good crisis.– Philosophy of Don Sharp, CEO at Coolfire
How can you make your business virus-proof, at a time when many economists believe that a recession is on its way?
1. Automate the Processes
People today realize how important it is now to make the processes simplified and started using various automated tools to boost the growth of a business. By relying on the human workforce for every task, you increase your expenditure and slow down the process. At difficult times, your reliance on the human workforce might cost you a halt in your operations. Take the process of sales, for example. If your business relied on door-to-door salespeople, this might have proved not easy when everyone was quarantined. But if you had a software that could automatically track down leads, follow up with them and close the sale—your selling process could still work for you regardless of a pandemic.
However, automating the work processes and transitioning of data to Cloud can be very overwhelming for the business owners. More than 32% of SMEs showed concerns about data privacy and security. 28% of business owners felt the cost associated with digitization is quite high.
Despite that , reducing the dependency on human salespeople, transitioning the process digitally, and relying on software automation is essential during a crisis. Automating simple processes can save a lot of time, allowing you to focus more on improving your products and services. It will help you deliver a better experience to your customers in comparison to your competitors.
2. Focus on digital transformation:
The digital transformation started in the last two decades, but a major implementation of it is observed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Habits of customers change, and you need to be future-ready. SMEs should move to the virtual meeting,
When we talk about digitization, you have to focus on future-proofing your company for years and years to come. Therefore it becomes imperative to do more than building a website. It would help if you make your mobile presence strong, carrying out more virtual and 100% online campaigns, and training your staff to have basic digital skills. Before COVID-19 hit, a digital presence was important, but business owners still overlooked it.
A recent study by Mckinsey showed that the transition to B2B e-commerce channels is twice as essential now as they were prior to the crisis. Since the lockdown began, businesses that had their digital presence were less affected compared to the ones who are absent from the internet. The only way left to survive for these businesses was opting for digitization.
For business continuity, SMEs are looking for digital solutions:
- 28% have opted for social media advertising for the target audience
- 27% of SMEs have sold product/services online
- 20% of businesses opted for contactless payments
- 33% of SMEs didn’t accept cash as payment terms, especially during the COVID crisis.
3. Re-calibrate your Social Media Strategy:
Accoring to eMarketer, usage of Facebook apps increased to 70% in the times of crisis. These apps helped small businesses to engage and inform the valued customers about their product & services. Social media platform helps busineses to understand their ideal customers better in terms of what they feel and think. You need to leverage your entire network and make it work for you. Being present on different social media platforms and eCommerce websites can boost your company’s growth. You need to connect all your channels and make them work together to make it big.
Look out for new online avenues to connect with your audience like creating content through videos, engaging customers with polls & surveys, keeping tab of your competitors and also entertaining and engaging your customers by asking to share photos and vidoes of your product they use.
As more people stay home, you need to use your existing network to make your products and services more visible to your potential customers. By having an excellent online network, you will have more than one medium to sell to your customers. With social media, this means more than just posting up pictures of your products. You can utilize Facebook’s Marketplace options to sell your products, use Instagram’s Shopping feature to display price and features, and many more.
If your company yet to have a strong social media presence, the time to start is now. Use these digital tools to communicate with your customers effectively.
4. Strengthen your relationships with Customers, Vendors, and Stakeholders
Your current customers are the ones that you can expect to come back to you. So, it is essential to retain your customers and build good relationships as 20% of your customers bring 80% of your business. You can reward your existing customers for purchasing from you by providing additional discounts and unexpected extras. It’s essential to make your customers feel valued, the chances they come back to you will be enhanced. It will help you build trust among your customers.
It is of paramount importance that you have honest and transparent communication with your vendors in terms of payment. Keep them posted well in advance as regards deferred payment terms, if any, due to the COVID crisis. In such a situation building robust communications with your stakeholders and vendors will help to make the right decisions and in dismissing bottlenecks.
5. Prepare for Contingency Fund
Most large companies have plenty of reserves tucked away for emergencies. But SMES’s do not have the same luxuries for funds. Now with COVID, even smaller companies have realized the importance of contingency funds. It is therefore pertinent that companies start preparing these funds to help them tide over the crisis for months to come.
6. Instead of long-term plans, focus on the Day-to-Day
At the start of the year, you might have set certain budgets: certain targets, events to plan, and other ideas you might have had for 2020. While you shouldn’t disregard them completely, you have to admit one thing—everything has changed. Therefore, those long-term plans are no longer relevant!
But don’t make the mistake of giving up. It’s normal for aspiring entrepreneurs to feel defeated and at a loss, but don’t waste the rest of this year because you’re just waiting for it to pass. Rather, as women entrepreneurs, you need to strap in and adjust to the ‘new normal’ of how business is done. Use this time to embrace uncertainty and start to focus on your day-to-day plan. Focus on being adaptable, fast to react, and implement changes in your own business. If you can master this skill of being quick on your feet, you will come out of this situation stronger than ever.
7. Create an Evergreen Product
Many businesses lost a significant share in the market due to the spread of the virus. To survive in the pandemic, you should implement things out of the box to attract new customers. An innovative way applied by Golden Screen Cinemas in Malaysia was that they started selling merchandise to the customers, one that managed to go viral even while ticket sales for cinemas everywhere suffered.
For a business to survive in COVID-19, you must constantly think about other ways to make sales when your main product or service cannot be used in a crisis. Not everyone might have the budget or effort to create a physical product, so you can even consider digital products! For many small-time influencers, consultants and coaches—they even started selling their own digital product e-Books when they could not attend physical seminars.
Change is Inevitable
According to many economists and analysts, there are significant chances that a recession is coming on our way. To make your business resistant to the pandemic issues, you need to invest in improving your services’ strength and make them still available to people, regardless of a crisis. Virus proofing of business requires it to have balance. Always ensure that you do have enough cash flow to continue operations for months, so you don’t have to take unnecessary loans.
There are many tips to consider to keep your business running during the current situation. By following the ones mentioned in the article, your business may survive the pandemic, and come out stronger than ever before. Always prepare for the possible challenges in advance, be dynamic in your approach and it will help you make your business virus-proof, and even a pandemic will hardly impact your company.